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Pyra Kane

Pyra Kane is a great writer and all around great person. She is published in BlackHearts Anthology with me, so if you had the honor of reading it, you would know she’s a very talented person. She’s given me a little snippet into her work in progress and I gotta tell you, it’s going to be a great story!

Read a little about her and follow her to stay updated with her upcoming work.

What are you working on now?
A YA fantasy/adventure series. It’s my first big project, as I’ve only written short stories and flash fiction up to this point.

The story is about an NPC (non-playable character) whose video game was shut down in the 90’s, only to be revived in the year 2030. When a mysterious voice informs Kumiko of her situation, she’s thrusted into her new environment, logged in as a player, and must hide her identity as an NPC as she searches for her old home and family.

What is the first book that made you cry?
Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You.” It’s not often I get so attached to a character, but every time I think back to the book’s ending, I have to stifle tears.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
It’s funny you ask that. I’m actually one of those people whose emotions are really mellow. It’s a constant problem for me, and when it comes to writing, my own inexperience with certain emotions (such as shock, anger, confusion, and panic) definitely makes things more difficult. But I’d say as long as the person in question has a good idea of how these emotions typically feel to others, putting them into words is totally possible.

What does literary success look like to you?
Everyone sets a goal for themselves when they decide to be a writer. Whether it’s to achieve worldwide fame, or simply to write a story for themselves because they felt like it, I’d say success in the literary world is reaching whatever goal that is.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, which would you rather spend the day with, and what would you do?
The list of characters I’ve actually introduced to the page is practically nothing compared to the list of those whose stories I have yet to begin. But of those who’ve made their debut, I think I’d spend a day with Pui, the main character of my flash fiction, “Recollected: Sanguine,” which I’ve submitted to be published, but have yet to hear back on. Pui is a pretty mellow character with a taste for dark topics, so if it was up to him, we’d likely be looking at his skull collection and talking through the many interesting ways a person could die.

What’s your favorite color?
Purple, only the best of colors. But I also appreciate green, and blue, and every other color. Purple is my favorite though.

What’s your favorite food?
That’s a bit of a toughie. It’s hard for me to narrow down one food I enjoy more than any other, but I love enchiladas, pastas, and udon noodles.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Morning. I’m usually the first one up in my family.

How did you begin writing?
I discovered my passion for writing when a friend introduced me to an online writing community. The first stories I put out were terrible, but when they (somehow) received praise from a lot of people, I realized being a writer just maybe could’ve been my purpose in life. That was three years ago.

Where do you get your ideas?
For me, the birth of a story usually begins with another series I really enjoyed, something that sounds like it’d be fun to write. Like for my current WIP, about Kumiko the NPC. The original inspiration came from Sword Art Online, an anime series about 10,000 players who become trapped within a death game. I take the basic idea of the story in question (in this case, of people playing a game), and over time, change the details to differentiate from similar series. Eventually, I end up with something that hardly resembles the original idea, and feels shiny and new in its own right.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Honestly, if I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to get off my lazy butt and stop procrastinating. Until earlier this year, i had a huge procrastination issue when it came to writing. It was stressful when ideas would constantly not work out and had to be redone. I struggled with a lot of self-doubt, which caused me to push the work back on my schedule more than I would like to admit. So I’d love to simply push my past self to work harder.

Music or silence?
Music. Silence makes my tinnitus louder, which makes me lose my mind.

What’s your favorite love story?
My favorite love story is actually from a video game. I don’t know how many people will recognize it, but “Super Paper Mario,” (yes, a Mario game) holds the title for best love story in my book. The story is beautiful and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise.

List five adjectives to describe yourself.
Fun. Weird. Honest. Positive. Dark.

What are your favorite hobbies?
Well, writing is the obvious one. I also enjoy drawing, trying new foods, playing video games, watching anime, and above all, spending time with my characters. Not just to get to know them. They’re genuinely fun people.

Tea or coffee?
Tea. I’ve never been a fan of coffee. It’s a bit too rich and bitter for my taste. No offense to coffee people.

Tell us something you hate doing. Why?
While I previously said I love spending time with my characters, I don’t really enjoy the process of getting to know a newer one. Most of the time, learning the quirks and personality of a new character takes a long while and a ton of thinking. I’m usually excited to jump into writing their story, but writing for a character I don’t know well is pretty much impossible. So it’s kind of a back and forth battle of trying to learn who a character is and trying not to write for them until I do.

Pen or pencil?
Pencil. I tend to make a lot of errors when I write by hand, and I prefer not to have them permanently stuck on the page where everyone can see them.

Do you write by hand or type?
The previous question gave away the answer to this one. Aside from my handwriting mistakes, typing is also faster and involves fewer hand cramps.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends on how smooth the current scene is going. Struggling to put the character’s thoughts and feelings into words will usually put me off.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Until recently, no, actually. From the moment I decided to be a writer, I always intended to publish under my real name. It was my short time spent with a publishing company of writers with cool pen names that changed my mind. Now I rock ‘Pyra Kane’ like nobody else, and not just because nobody else has that name.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Half the time, a name they like just pops into my head. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll usually go to a baby name site and read names to them until something fits. Either way, the name is more up to the character than to me.

Where can we find more of your work?
All of my published stories can be found on my website, https://pyrakaneauthor.wixsite.com/author. I’ve only published one as of right now, but as the list grows, it will all be on that site.

BlackHearts Anthology

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Dawn Taylor

Today we are talking with the amazing writer Dawn Taylor. I know I compliment a lot of writers, but Dawn’s writing style truly is one of my favorites. Her stories are absolutely beautifully written. 

Now I’ll be honest. I have yet to make it through her novel “Something’s Not Right With Lucy”. It is that beautifully written and vivid. Her characters are so real, it feels like I already know them or have seen them. The description is so detailed that I forgot I was reading and was just watching it as a movie. I’m still reading, but slowly. It’s the stuff of nightmares. But if you don’t mind nightmares, definitely buy a copy, because it really is an amazingly written novel.

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Let’s get onto the interview with Dawn, shall we?

What are you working on now?
The untitled sequel to my novel, “Something’s Not Right With Lucy.”

Readers mentioned in reviews and contacted me directly that they wanted to know what happened to the characters after the dramatic end of the story. The sequel takes place twenty years later––l995. Some characters haven’t changed at all, which is not a good thing! But the reader will witness the evolution of the characters as they combat the darkness that shadows their small farming community. The sequel is scheduled for a November release.

What is the first book that made you cry?
Charlotte’s Web, one of my first cherished children’s stories. I love the book so much, I mention it in my sequel.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, which would you rather spend the day with, and what would you do?
One of my favorite characters is Carol in the Double Nickel Tour. She took reins of her fear. She traveled alone to a country and with the help of a friend, learned to experience life to its fullness. We would hang out on the beach and drink cocktails all day.

Ah! The life! 

What’s your favorite color?
Red.

Are you a morning person or a night person?
Morning.

If a fan wanted to send you mail, where can they send to?

dawn@dawnmtaylor.com

How did you begin writing?
I wrote a poem about a snowflake in fourth grade. The teacher praised my talent and that was the beginning.

Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events?

I have held book signings and I love meeting readers. Their comments and questions about my stories are always interesting to me.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Remembering that men’s buttons are on the opposite side of a shirt.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I had written poems and short stories as a teenager, but I wish I would have had the confidence to let others read them. They remained my personal collection. I still have a lot of them.
Music or silence? Silence

What’s your favorite love story? (movie or book) The Bridges of Madison County.

Do you believe in love at first sight? No. Lust at first sight, yes.

If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?

Dawn

Is it just me, or does this really sound incredible?

Tea or coffee?

Coffee

I will agree with you there. 

Tell us something you hate doing. Why?
Dusting. Because it’s never done.

Pen or pencil?
Pen. Blue medium ink Bic.

I want to respect your choices, but I just feel like black ink is better. Bic is amazing though. 

Do you write by hand or type?

type

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing, energize, editing, exhausting

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No. I want the nay-sayers to take notice.

How many hours a day do you write?

Varies. 0-11 hours depending on my schedule.

I really want to write for eleven hours now! 

How did you come up with the idea for your most recent story?
Since the sequel is a stand-alone story, I used the same characters but needed a conflict. The most conflicted relationship is a mother and daughter. Since the mother is horrid, it was easy to build a story around these characters and how their actions affect one another.

Where can we find more of your work?
My website is dawnmtaylor.com Besides my two novels, I have written a nonfiction book about the history of my hometown, “Chauncey’s Place: A Pictorial History of Austin, Minnesota 1854-2014,” I have two story stories published by Scout Media in the “Of Words” series. “The Double Nickel Tour” appears in A Journey or Words, and “Pepe” appears in A Haunting of Words. A new flash fiction piece, “For The Want of a Name” will be published in A Flash of Words. I have also published “The Price of Admission,” for Seakay’s Story Telling, and a flash fiction piece, “Dirty Gypsy Girl,” in the Tales of Hallowed Eve anthology.

Thank you so much for hanging with me, Dawn!

 

Ian Bishop

Author Ian Thomas Bishop wrote the A Contract of Words story “Bard’s Folly”. It is a sad story about two boys with a suicide pact. One is a little more nervous than the other, but both are determined their lives are too hard to live and don’t want to die alone.

This is a story that could have had multiple outcomes, but the way it ends is so fitting and eerie. Bishop did an incredible job at providing enough details, so you can really see what is going on. I didn’t see this ending coming and was completely shocked at the turn the story had made. Not many stories fool me this way, and I was pleasantly surprised that this was one of them.

My favorite part about this story is how nervous the character Belligan was when they talked about how it would happen. I found it extremely realistic. Many people claim to want to die, but when they are finally faced with it, they discover that maybe they were overreacting. Maybe they need to think about it first.

You’ll really need to read this story to get a full sense of the story. It was a great one. On to the interview!

a contract of words

What is your story about?

Bard’s Folly is about two strangers who enter into a pact with each other, and the unintended consequences that arise when things don’t go according to plan.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?

Maybe in a very general way. I’ve known several people over the years who struggled with mental

Illness and suicidal ideation, but the two characters in my story are more like general composites of the more extreme elements of people I know in real life, as well as drawing from my own personal experiences with bipolar disorder.

What inspired you to write this story?
I honestly don’t really remember, this story was actually mostly written over 10 years ago when I was in college and suffering my own personal battle with mental illness. I don’t think I was ever truly suicidal, but looking back on the story now I think it was a way for me to process and deal with my own feelings of despair and hopeless that I was feeling when the story was written.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?
I’d planned on submitting as soon as I learned that they were accepting submissions, and then I proceeded to write 3-4 stories trying to fit the theme of the contract that really sucked and were not worth submitting. I was starting to get discouraged because I couldn’t come up with anything that seemed to work, and about a week before submissions were about to close I was ready to give up. That’s when it occurred to me that I had this old story that I’d written years ago that would probably work with a little tweaking. The only problem was that I’ve saved the story on the hard drive of an old computer, and I had no idea where that hard drive was or how to get my old stories off of it even if I found it. Then I remembered that I had emailed the story my brother when I had originally written it, so I scrolled through years worth of emails to find it, but it was worth the effort because after a little tweaking and polishing, I submitted Bard’s Folly and it somehow got accepted.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?

I was ecstatic, overjoyed. It was the first story of any kind that I’d ever submitted for publication and I was lucky enough for it to be chosen, I was not expecting to make the cut but it was such an amazing surprise to find out that I had.

Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.

I chose the song Out of the Black by Royal Blood, mainly because I felt like the driving rhythm of the song and the juxtaposition between the loud rocking choruses and the more subdued verses seemed to match the feel I was going for with my story, also there are a few lyrics of the song the seem to fit elements of my story which was an unintended bonus.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
I wish I could say that I’m organized enough to be an outliner, but the truth is that I seem to write my best stuff when I just go for it and worry about the details later. For short stories I never use any kind of outline, except sometimes I might refine the overall concept of the story into a single sentence and then flesh out all the details as I go. Bard’s Folly was the kind of story that was written in the space of just a few hours, but then it was picked over, edited and rewritten several times over the years.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write a story?

I chose the name Bard’s Folly probably about a day before submitting the story, if you can believe it. Usually I choose the names for my stories much earlier in the process, but since I’d sat on this story for several years and the version of the story that ended up in ACOW ended up being much different from the first draft, it felt necessary to rename the story. Bard’s Folly seemed to work well because the character Bard is the one in the story who seemingly has everything figured out, only to learn that things aren’t always so black and white.
Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?

I feel like this such a great anthology and feel lucky to be included in it, it’s really hard to choose a favorite story but I really loved “Technical Jargon” by Sheena Robin Harris, “A Guy Walks Into a Bar” by Sandy Lyle Lunt, mainly because those stories both stir up emotions inside of me and are very different from something that I would write personally. I also really loved JM Ames “Endless Skies” because I’m a big sci-if and Black Sabbath fan, and his story incorporates elements of both.

Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?

Two Gunslingers because I’ve always loved Tom Petty.
Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?

Not yet, but having my story published in ACOW has inspired me to try to get more stories published in the near future so keep an eye out for my name.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?

Currently working on creating a Facebook author profile so that would be the best way to find me.

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Natalie Kocheran

The last story in the Of Words series is always written by a child. A Contract of Words is no different.

Natalie Kocheran is the author of “A Promise”. She is a very talented young author and I am thrilled that she allowed me to interview her.

When I first started reading “A Promise”, I didn’t know it was the last story, and I honestly thought it was written by an adult. This girl has so much potential. The story was beautiful and very well written. It was sad and sweet, just the type of story I love to read.

I do hope you check it out. This girl is going to be every bit as amazing at writing as her mother.

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Tell me what your story is about.

A girl making a friend.

How old are you?

I’m 6. My birthday was in January. I was 5 when my story got picked.

Why did you want to write a story for this? Why write at all?

 Because I think it’s fun.

How did you feel when you found out your story was chosen?

 Happy.

I heard you found out you were accepted before your mom. Were you secretly hoping she wouldn’t make it in?

 Yes. *giggles*

How did you think of the idea for this story? My kids would have wanted to write about monsters or princesses. Yours is very thought out.

 I don’t know.

Can we expect to see more from you in the future, or is this a one-time thing?

 Yep. I write a lot.

Have you told your friends and teachers about being in a book? Because honestly, that’s pretty awesome. How did they react?

 Yes. I gave my teachers copies. They were happy.

Who is your absolute favorite writer?

 Eric Litwin. He writes Pete the Cat.

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A special thanks to Natilie and her mom for letting me do this interview. She is an awesome kid and I cannot wait to see who she becomes in the writing world. 

 

William Thatch

“For Science”, written by William Thatch, featured in A Contract of Words, is a very comical story about a man who goes to a science facility to be a test subject. The story starts out hilarious and continues to be every bit as funny throughout. I don’t think I stopped laughing. The scientists study him, making remarks on his attitude and behavior, before finally conducting their experiment. At first, I’m completely stunned at what they want to do with him. Then more comedy.

Thatch has a certain talent to make people laugh. I struggle with adding comedy to my stories at all. I prefer darker and sad, so when I read something like this, I am awed at the talent.

As always, William Thatch’s writing is beautiful and flows perfectly. Or as beautiful as this genre can be. I enjoyed his A Haunting of Words story and loved his A Journey of Words story as well, so I’m a long fan of Thatch’s.

If you like to read comedy, I highly suggest you check out this story, and maybe Thatch’s A Haunting of Words story. For serious and sweet, check out his A Journey of Words story.

a contract of words

What is your story about?
An unnamed protagonist answers an ad in the paper to be part of a scientific experiment. The scientists want to induce a little known condition known as “death” to the protagonist. While dead the protagonist will experience the afterlife and report back to the scientists once his corpse is revived. If they can revive him. Wacky hilarity ensues.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?
Nope. All 100% original. There might be little references here or there, but not enough to say anyone is based on anyone. Alright, that’s not entirely true. Betty White appears and I tried to be true to her as I understand her to be. That’s also not entirely true. She does a cartwheel and kicks an angel. I don’t think Betty White can do a cartwheel. If someone would like to get in touch with Betty White and ask her if she can do a cartwheel, I would love to be proven wrong.

What inspired you to write this story?
I couldn’t begin to tell you. Near as I can tell I was riffing jokes with my editor, Nathan Rodgers, and the spark started there. I’m sure the idea of doing a story set in Hell and Heaven, and my natural predliction towards offensive jokes made it a guarantee I’d write it.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?
Since getting into two straight Of Words anthologies, yeah, I’m more or less planning to submit to every one from here on out. I’m working on how to convince the publisher to somehow retroactively let me into A Matter of Words, which I missed out on because I learned of it too late. I’m thinking blackmail, but I probably shouldn’t state that in a public forum…

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?
The publisher, Brian Paone, announces who gets in by posting a picture of three items related to the story (a score of three is automatically included, a score of one is one that doesn’t make it). My initial reaction was confusion as to what the items were. It took me a couple of days to realize they were Bunson burners. So more confusion than elation, but I mean I was still happy. Confusedly happy.

Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.
I did. There were a pair of jazzy tunes on the Final Fantasy 13 soundtrack. Just these little goofy tunes that I wrote to. No lyrics, which I think makes them unique to the soundtrack, but I tried to use the feeling to keep spurring the music forward.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
I sat and wrote. I knew like one or two jokes I wanted to do, that was about it. I didn’t even know the ending until I was about 500 words away from needing to write it. It took about a week if I had to guess.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write a story?
A friend of mine, Simon, and I were playing a game called Portal 2, which is about science experiments. Whenever we’d get a new objective we’d announced “FOR SCIENCE!” and run off to do the objective. So early in the writing I realized I had to name it For Science! complete with exclamation point.

Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?
Mine. I equally love and hate my own stories. That’s an egotistical response, but it’s completely on brand for me. I am amazing and incredible, and so, so humble.

Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?
I haven’t listened to it. So, again, I’ll have to say my own. “Can’t Catch A Break” by Masashi Hamauzu.

Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?
I have stories published in A Journey of Words (“The Highway”), A Haunting of Words (“A Wacky, Fantastical Misadventure in New Haven”) and soon in Love Dust (“Shattered”). The Of Words anthologies are on Amazon.com and the publisher, Scout Media’s, website. Love Dust is not out yet, but keep checking this blog and I have a feeling Donise will let you all know when Love Dust is available.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?
I try to post on my Facebook account about updates, but admittedly I get slack in the update department sometimes. I’m more reliable on Twitter where I can be found at @The_0s1s.

FOR SCIENCE ad

David Williams

David Williams’ story “The Main Event” is featured in A Contract of Words. It is about a man who signs a contract to become a professional wrestler. Things take a turn when his boss tells him the only way he’ll take top slot is if one of the existing tops drops dead. This story was so not what I was expecting. Blackmail. Murder. Secrets. Super exciting stuff, guys.

The writing itself was great! The flow was perfect and kept me interested the entire story. It was beautifully written, but not flowery.

There was always one thing after another, making this story action packed, which is what you want to read in this genre.

At first, I was rooting for the main character, then, I found myself on the side of his boss. The characters were realistic and their personalities shined through in their words and actions.

Williams did an amazing job on his A Contract of Words story. I highly recommend reading it.

a contract of words

What is your story about?
The only wrestling adage goes; to be the best, you have to beat the best. But no one said you need to beat the rest. The Main Event is about a up-and-coming wrestler who tries to skip a few rungs on the ladder by killing and blackmailing his way to the top of the card.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?
No, I did amalgamate the names of older wrestlers to name some of my characters, though they aren’t really based on based on anyone I know.

What inspired you to write this story?

There was a wrestler called Bruiser Brody who was pretty huge in the 80s who was murdered by another wrestler in the locker room at a show of a wrestling promotion in Puerto Rico. The story of Brody’s murder has always fascinated me because no one was ever convicted of the murder, the other wrestlers in the locker room we’re intimidated and scared of the accused and wouldn’t testify. Anyway, being a fan of professional wrestling, the opportunity to write a wrestling story was too good to miss, and one inspired by the event leading to Brody’s death seemed to resonate with me most.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?

I planned to submit if I could think of a suitable storyline involving a contract. Once I had the idea, I knew I’d submit it. It was a pretty late deal though, I struggled with a suitable way to end the story for a while which held me back. But my thought was to include a breach of the contract in some way, and then elude to the consequences of the breach.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?

I was about to finish work when I checked my phone and saw I had so many Facebook notifications because Brian had tagged me in a Facebook post to announce my inclusion. I’m pretty sure I just ran around telling everyone at work about it and then told my family and best friend.

Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.

I struggled a little with picking a song, but did want to choose one. I researched what Bruiser Brody’s entrance music was and it was Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Seeing as Brody was the inspiration for the story, it made sense to choose the song associated with him.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?

Once I had the idea of the story itself, I knew pretty much how it was going to flow straight through. Like I said before, the only part I struggled with was how to end it, but eventually found the answer I needed.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write a story?

I chose the title when I started writing the story, it was a logical choice because the story was centered around a wrestler trying to reach the Main Event.

Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?

To my eternal shame, I haven’t had a chance to read any of the other stories, YET! But the one I’m looking forward to reading is M.R. Ward’s ‘The Road Back’ which is a sequel to the story he did for A Journey of Words.

Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?

Generally, I’m just a fan of music and all of the songs are awesome. It’s fun to see how some songs have influenced the stories, and of course some are directly adapted from the songs.

Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?

My only other published work is ‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’ which can be found in A Journey of Words, one of the other anthologies by Scout Media.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?

Across social media, facebook.com/davidwbooks, instagram.com/davidwbooks, twitter.com/davidw_books, and www.davidwbooks.com.

Rayona Lovely Wilson

A Contract of Words story “The Sammy Clause” by Rayona Lovely Wilson is about a young man who agrees to date this woman with all kinds of demands, such as let her see his phone whenever she chooses, to always love her, and to never talk or look at other women. It’s sad really, because I actually know men and women like this in real life. I felt awful for Dean, the main character, because nobody should have to live with someone like that. I felt his insecurities and heartbreak.

Wilson did an incredible job at showing us both character’s personalities. I strongly disliked the antagonist, which is what an author aims for. Sammy, Dean’s girlfriend, was very selfish and conceited, thinking Dean’s world needed to revolve around her and her alone. Dean obviously has mental issues and struggles with his self-image. These characters are very well developed.

Girls are stereotypically the ones being abused, but men are abused all the time. It was nice to get this side out for the world to see the other end of it.

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What is your story about?
It’s about the beginning stages of an abusive relationship but not the type everyone is used to. It’s what one desperate guy will do to be in a relationship, kinda sad when I think about it all over again.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?
No. Lol. I’d have to intervene if it were.

That is awesome to know! 

What inspired you to write this story?
I guess I was tired of people making it seem like boys and men couldn’t be abused or in relationships where women were the abusers. We always hear “be a man” or “a guy can’t be raped” it’s real sad.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?
Well, this was my 5th overall submission to the of words anthologies and I figured I better do it again because I wanted to get in. So I made a plan to do it.

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What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?
I was screaming like a fan girl. My kids were looking at me like I was crazy but I was so excited to see that 3. Like a dream come true, but then I thought, “wait, is it really good enough?” Looks like my brain tried to trick me into thinking it wasn’t good but I told it to shut up and let me celebrate.

Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.
I chose the song ‘When You’re Not There’ by KoRn because when I listen to it on repeat I see my story play out. Even though he’s being hurt, Dean wants to be loved, he feels miserable even thinking about being alone. Ima need everyone to go hear the song.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
This story was based off my novel She Loves Me Not. No outline done, I sat down and decided, get this done and see how people take to it.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write a story?
I guess it was originally titled ‘The Rules’ which I don’t remember titling it so I was so lost. But after, I talked to some of the other authors who got in and decided on a different title. Titling always comes last for me.

Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?
I could always say mine cause it really is but there’s so many stories in there that could be my absolute favorite. So ima name one and hopefully everyone doesn’t side eye me for not picking their story. So the first story in the anthology really has me laughing. ‘No Way’ by F. A. Fisher. I mean, he pulled it off so well. A story about a man trying to write a story to get into an anthology based on contracts. How amazing is that?

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Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?
I actually haven’t had a chance to hear the CD. I need to go download a copy.

Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?
I officially have 5 short stories published in 4 different anthologies and my novel ‘She Loves Me Not’ can be found on amazon by searching Rayona Lovely Wilson. several of the anthologies will pull up as well.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?
My author page Facebook.com/shewhoscribbles is where you can follow me to get updated information about me and my work. Hope to see you all there.

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C.E. Rickard

A Contract of Words story “The Hangman’s House” by C.E. Rickard is enough to give me nightmares. Scary isn’t even close to the word to describe it.

I don’t do ghosts. I don’t do mice. I don’t do noose’s or sadistic men. But I couldn’t stop reading. This story pulls you in and captivates you. It is wonderful and horrific all in one. The story gave me chills. If you are looking for an awesome horror story, this one is it.

Rickard wrote beautiful characters, who I grew to like in such a short amount of time, and amazing detail. I could almost hear the scratching and see the setting (no I won’t spoil, buy the book).

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What is your story about?
The Hangman’s House focusses on Melissa as she starts her new bartending job. Full of enthusiasm for the future and the chance to finally settle down. Unfortunately, the building was once the residence of the City of London’s official hangman, whose passion for his job continues long after his death.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?
No, the characters in The Hangman’s House are 100% fictional.

What inspired you to write this story?
Nathaniel Locklie, the hangman in my story, was inspired by a real hangman William Calcraft. A cruel and sadistic executioner whilst alive the thought of encountering him after his death was truly terrifying.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of words or was it spontaneous?
I knew that Scout Media is a great publishing company and that the Of Words anthologies are something that I really wanted to be a part of. As soon as A Contract of Words was announced I started brainstorming.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?
I was ecstatic! I found out just as I was walking to collect my daughter from school. After ringing my husband, I told several random strangers along the way!

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Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.
The song I chose was Here comes revenge by Metallica. I am a huge fan and the song fits almost perfectly.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
I didn’t have a strict outline for The Hangman’s House. Just a few scenes and the ending. It was important to fulfil the contract element so I worked on that to start with but I prefer to let the story develop naturally.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write the story?
I chose the title straight away, as soon as the concept of the story was developed. This doesn’t always happen. Titles can be tricky!

Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?
All of the stories in A Contract of Words are fantastic and to be included alongside these amazing authors is an honour. If I have to pick just one story it would have to be Technical Jargon by Sheena Robin Harris. I love this story and have read it several times.

Which of the songs on the companion CD is your favorite and why?
This is also very tricky as there are several. I am a big rock fan and there are several that appeal to me. But if I have to pick just one of the songs it would probably be Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple as it is the first song everyone in my household learnt to play on the guitar. (It is a love/hate relationship with this song!)

Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?
My short story Little Girl Gone is published in an anthology called Ghost stories by Zimbell House Publishing. It is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/C.E.Rickard.author/ I would love to see you there!

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M.L. Garza

Next up in the A Contract of Words stories is M.L. Garza’s “When Dealing in Souls”. A wonderful story about a woman exorcising a demon. Demon’s scare me, and the description of the room and the boy was vivid and horrific. She is a very impressive writer. As someone who has just started dabbling in historical fiction, I know it isn’t easy, but Garza makes it look natural and fluid.

I thought the contract aspect was very original. Normally, when you hear of a deal with a demon, it is more of a crossroads demon. This is an exorcist trying to save a boy, and her family name. Her father is as famous as Van Hellsing, and Olivia doesn’t want to tarnish his reputation by not being every bit as good at the family business that he tells everyone she will be. So, she strikes a deal.

This is a creative, well-written story. Deals with demons are incredibly interesting, and the twist she gives is even more exciting.

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What is your story about?
“When Dealing in Souls” is a fantasy comedy about a young woman in Edwardian-era London who comes from a famous family of exorcists. On the day of her first solo exorcism, she realizes the job is not as easy as she first thought. Faced with one of the highest ranking demons in the body of a young Duke, she has to make an unorthodox deal in order to get the job done and not disgrace her family name.

Are your characters based off anyone you know?
With the exception of the Duchess and her son, based on a very trying tutoring experience I had once, most of the characters aren’t really based on anyone in particular. I did try to take some of the interactions of those around me though, namely Olivia and her father as well as Olivia and the demon. The snark and banter between Dantalion and Olivia actually comes from how my husband and I rib each other sometimes (haha, it’s a very happy marriage, so don’t worry!)

What inspired you to write this story?
My main inspirations for this story was Disney’s “The Reluctant Dragon” and the film “Dragonheart,” notably the particular scheme the characters come up with in each film. Another influence actually came from my time in the military where you’d get the occasional person with some way to cheat the system to avoid embarrassment. I don’t normally write comedy, but I’ve always loved characters with slightly skewed moral compasses. Making a bad deal for the wrong reasons with the best of intentions can lead to some funny moments, so I ran with it. I was in the middle of a writing rut, but the idea of an untalented exorcist and indignant demon snarking at each other just wouldn’t leave my mind. It was one of those rare moments where it seemed to write itself.

Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?
I did plan on submitting to the anthology from the beginning, but this story wasn’t actually my intended piece. As we were allowed two submissions, I first sent a very different story. In the middle of the submission window, I was inspired to write this piece and was able to complete it in time.

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?
I was over the moon when I received my acceptance to A Contract of Words! I loved the way Brian posted the announcements on Facebook with a teaser picture and phrase. It gave viewers a fun idea of what the story was about as well as gave a great shout out to the author. I must have looked at that post for over a week after and still have the screeenshot in a folder next to the story itself.

Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.
The song I chose was Voltaire’s “Goodnight, Demon Slayer.” Picking a song for this was difficult as I didn’t listen to anything while writing the story, and very few songs seemed to match the right tone. I wanted something light-hearted with a supernatural theme, so my options were fairly limited. When I remembered this song, I immediately knew it was the right fit. This is something I could see Olivia’s father sing to her every night when she was little. Her desire to make him proud is the main motivation for everything she does, so highlighting their relationship with this lullaby seemed fitting.

What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
Writing this story was very different from the way I write everything else. I normally like to have at least a rough outline before starting, and my method tends to be slower but deliberate. “When Dealing in Souls” was nothing like that. I had a few moments in mind when I started, but it came out very organic. From start to finish, it probably took about three days of physically writing it down and then another day to type it up and polish.

How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the title before or after you write a story?
Coming up with titles is always one of the hardest parts for me. I usually start with a working title and decide on the final one at the end. The title of this story, however, came early on in the writing process. The concept of “dealing in souls” is at the heart of the contract between Olivia and Dantalion. They each get what they want, but the currency is other people’s lives.

Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?
It was really hard to choose a favorite among the stories of this anthology, but I’d have to go with Two Gunslingers by Brian Paone. Normally, Westerns aren’t my thing at all, but this story really grabbed my attention from the start. Without giving too much away, there is a squabble between the two main characters that launches the story into action. I was unable to stop reading until I knew what this argument was about and how it was going to be solved. Following the angry Jack as our main character made it a fun ride from start to finish.

Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?
As with the stories themselves, the song choices were all very strong from all of the authors involved. For a favorite, I have to go with Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” for the story “Endless Skies.” Not only does it marry with the story perfectly, but it’s just a wonderful song to lose oneself in.

Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?
I do have several works published, from short stories to novellas, with some novels on the way as well. Most of my work is found on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/M.-L.-Garza/e/B078T32F2M/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_10), however, I also have a piece published through Smashwords, publisher websites, and my films can be found on YouTube. A better link for all of my works is below.

How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?
I love to hear from my readers and to just talk writing in general. I can be found on my Facebook author page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMLGarza/) and links to all of my works are on my personal website (https://ramblingscholar.wixsite.com/mlgarza ). I try to keep these sites up to date with all of the latest information on upcoming releases, so they’re the best ways to find me.